A 91-year-old woman waited in agony for three days for an operation after breaking her hip in a fall.

Mary Tapp waited on a trolley in casualty for 12 hours after medics said they would operate that day.

But as Chancellor Gordon Brown was preparing his Budget promise to improve the health service, Mrs Tapp discovered the operation had been put off and was moved on to a ward.

Three painful days and two cancelled operations later, she was still waiting for treatment.

Yesterday, she finally had her operation and is recovering at the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton.

Last night, Mrs Tapp's daughter angrily condemned the system that made her mother suffer.

Margaret Martin of Wilson Avenue, Brighton, said: "My mum is a frail, old lady. She weighs 7st. She was in pain. She couldn't move and she couldn't sleep properly.

"They kept doping her up and taking her food away ready for the operation, then cancelling it.

"I was at my wits end. I didn't know what to do to help her. It's all very well the Chancellor making all these announcements but they haven't done anything to help my mum or other people like her."

Mrs Tapp, who lives at the Persimmon Residential Care Home in Saltdean and lost her husband Frank last July, fell as she made an early-morning trip to the bathroom on Monday.

Helpers called an ambulance and she was taken to the Royal Sussex County Hospital, where staff quickly identified a fractured hip.

She remained on a trolley in the accident and emergency department and was told surgeons hoped to operate later in the day to insert a metal pin in her hip. But 12 hours later, she was admitted to an orthopaedic ward.

On Tuesday, her family were told she would be going to theatre later that day. But, despite giving her preparatory drugs and cancelling her meals, the operation did not go ahead.

On Wednesday, Mrs Tapp's food was again withdrawn and she was prepared for the operation. But it was cancelled again. Staff told her the theatre was no longer available.

Mrs Martin said she was driven to despair because of the delays and cancellations.

She said: "We were told so many times the operation was definitely on and then we'd find out it had been cancelled again. The nurses and doctors are doing their best and it is them who feel the length of our tongues but it's not their fault. The system just isn't working."

Mrs Martin said her mother, a former cleaner had been active until the accident.

She said: "We know there are urgent cases coming in all the time and they have to take priority. But I believe they put cases like my mum's to the bottom of the scrap heap."

Hospital spokesman Ian Keeber said the trust owed Mrs Tapp an apology.

He said: "All we can really say to Mrs Tapp and her family is 'sorry'. Her operation was cancelled on Tuesday and again on Wednesday, simply because of the pressure of other traumas. I know it is difficult to say a 91-year-old woman with a fractured hip is not a priority but some patients will die if not treated immediately. "

Mr Keeber said the trust was working with government funding to try to reduce the number of cancelled operations.

Mr Brown made the National Health Service the centrepiece of his Budget speech.

He announced a £40 billion boost over the next five years.

After the speech, Stuart Welling, chief executive of the Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, said: "The additional money will give the NHS a real opportunity to continue to develop our services and deliver the NHS Plan."